Friday, September 28, 2007

A HEEP of things

The 2007 International Highway Engineers exchange program (HEEP) concluded last Thursday night and I’m just now getting a chance while I wait for may daughter to finish her weekly piano lesson. 396 attendees saw a variety of excellent presentations that ran the gambit ffrom CADD usage to Xerox plotting solutions. As usual a great time (see pictures) was had by all and a whole bunch of information was exchanged in both formal and informal settings.

First, I would want to congratulate Ms. Diane Gunsch as being the recipient of the 2007 Ken Close Award which can be given by the HEEP President to anyone he or she considers a person who represents the ideas, philosophy and mission of the HEEP organization. Diane has exemplified what HEEP stands for as a member, area director, HEEP president, ESP director and most of all a good friend. So Diane, congratulations again, on being the 2007 Ken Close award winner and welcome to the club.

So other than Diane’s award what went on tat HEEP his year? From my view the two hot topics this year are - Automated Machine Control and 3-D Design. With every session of these topics well if not over attended. This really isn't surprising since the “3D issue” has been festering for a while (come to think of it for as long as I have been involved with cadd – now going on 20+ years). The funny thing is that a lot of smart people thought we put this issue to bed in the mid 90's with the GEOPAK vs. InRoads debate. Guess what it looks like the 3-D philosophy of Inroads won and it is leaving the GEOPAK states with painful choices about which direction they need to go. The choices that I see are.

1. Hang on to GEOPAK make due and hope the product changes
2. Hang on till Bentley delivers a “NEW” civil product (possibly Power Civil XM)
3. Switch to InRoads
4. Or the most radical one - Switch to Autodesk 3-D and AutoCAD...

All of these will cause great amounts of Pain for the DOTs use and our engineering groups that currently rely on Geopak to produce “plans". The question that we will be asking is what level of pain can we accept and where do we see our organizations and the highway industry going. I feel this is last time we are going to get this chance to decide before outside forces decide for us. We live in interesting times....

In addition to the 3-D design discussions there was a lot of talk about how the move to 3-D will effect the organizational, professional and legal aspects (if any) for our staffs, our organizations and the public.